|10 most intriguing veterans on Patriots roster||05.07.13 at 12:43 pm ET|
This spring, there are several notable names on the Patriots roster who are starting an important period in their careers for one of four reasons. One, because they might be on the hot seat this year as part of a looming positional battle. Two, they’ve been on the shelf for an extended stretch and are a question mark when it comes to how much they might be able to contribute. Three, they have yet to take a snap in the Patriots system, which makes it difficult when it comes to gauging how they might fit in Foxboro. And four, they are entering a contract year and could have their fortunes down the road tied to their performance in 2013.
With that in mind, here’s our list of this spring’s 10 most intriguing veterans on the New England roster.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: Talib, who was acquired from the Bucs in a November trade, wasn’t an elite corner by any stretch, but his presence allowed the Patriots to move Devin McCourty to safety and install Kyle Arrington in the slot. With that personnel combination in the secondary, the Patriots pass defense had great improvement across the board. (The continuity of having the same five guys at the same spots in the defensive backfield also helped, and with his return, should help going forward.) Despite some injury issues — his departure in the AFC title game, combined with New England’s lack of a coverage linebacker, left the Patriots struggling to defend against Joe Flacco — Talib became a key part of the defense. He re-signed with the Patriots on a low-cost, one-year “prove it” deal that creates incentives for both him and the team. If he has a terrific year, he gets to return to the open market with a chance to really cash in, and the team gets a top-level corner for a year at relatively low cost.
Tight end Jake Ballard: The former Giant was plucked off the New York roster last June and spent the entire 2012 season on the shelf after suffering a knee injury in Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots. A 6-foot-6, 275-pounder, he was undrafted out of Ohio State in 2010 but turned himself into an effective downfield threat in 2011 with New York (38 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns). Ballard is intriguing for a couple of reasons. One, he hasn’t been on the field for a year, and remains a bit of an unknown commodity because of his inactivity. And two, if Rob Gronkowski is on the shelf for any amount of time, Ballard (provided he’s healthy) should see an increase in reps, as his game has some elements of Gronkowski.
Defensive lineman Armond Armstead: One of the most intriguing veteran prospects the Patriots have brought in this spring, this CFL import — who stands 6-foot-5, 300 pounds — could provide a boost to the New England pass rush. The 22-year-old, a USC product, was a three-year star for the Trojans in college. After a junior year spent at defensive end — where he had 43 tackles, six of which were for a loss (three sacks) — he was set to open his senior year at defensive tackle but suffered a heart attack before his senior season and never was cleared to practice. As a result, he went undrafted last spring and ended up with Toronto of the Canadian Football League, where he led the team with 44 tackles and six sacks to help the Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship. (Armstead and Jason Vega are the two CFL imports who joined the New England roster this offseason.)
(When it comes to making the transition from the CFL to the NFL, Marc Trestman — a former CFL coach who was named coach of the Bears this offseason — thinks it can be done. “There are some players up there certainly that have shown they can play in the NFL, that’s been proven over time. There haven’t been many, but the guys who have shown up down here did a pretty good job of fitting in,” he said. “Players up there are very similar to the guys down here in terms of their character. They want to master their craft, they want to be the best they can be, and some of them have had the opportunity south of the border and have done well. These guys love football up there and have dreams of wanting to do it down here, and those who can, will give it a try. Those who can’t have experienced a lot of exciting football up there.”)
Read the rest of this entry »
|Ex-CFL coach Marc Trestman: Players like Armstead, Vega can make transition to NFL||02.21.13 at 2:01 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — When it comes to looking for under-the-radar talent, the Patriots went north of the border this offseason, landing defensive linemen Armond Armstead (of the Toronto Argonauts) and Jason Vega (of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers).
Armstead is a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder who was a three-year star for the Trojans in college. After a junior year spent at defensive end — where he had 43 tackles, six of which were for a loss (three sacks) — he was set to open his senior year at defensive tackle, but suffered a heart attack before his senior season and was never cleared to practice. As a result, he went undrafted, and ended up with Toronto of the Canadian Football League, where he led the 44 tackles and six sacks to help the Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship.
Vega, who stands 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, is a native of Brockton who played his college ball at Northeastern. The 25-year-old spent the past two seasons playing for the Blue Bombers, recording 66 tackles and 12 sacks. At Northeastern, Vega battled through injury issues (including a broken elbow) to record 137 tackles and 14 sacks in 41 games. He was not selected in the 2010 NFL draft. (For more on their acquisition, check out this story from last month.)
New Bears coach Marc Trestman — who was hired by Chicago after spending the last five seasons in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes — talked Thursday morning at the scouting combine about the transition for players from the Canadian game to the NFL.
“There’s some players up there that have shown that they can play in the NFL,” Trestman said. “That’s been proven over time. There haven’t been many, but the guys who’ve shown up down here have done a pretty good job of fitting in. The players up there are very similar to the guys down here in terms of their character — they want to master their craft and be the best they can be. Some of them have had the opportunity south of the border and done well.
“These guys love football up there. They have dreams of wanting to do it down here. Those that can will give it a try; those that can’t have experienced a lot of exciting football up there.”
In the end, Trestman said that football is football.
“There are multiple differences, obviously,” he added. “But just generally, the ‘box’ is still the ‘box,’ the blitzes you seen in the CFL are similar to the blitzes you see south of the border. The field is wider, it’s intelligently created, it’s a three-down league. The defensive line is a yard off the ball, the field is a mile long and a mile wide. And we’re playing with 12 and multiple motions.”
|Reports: Patriots sign defensive lineman Armond Armstead||01.22.13 at 5:04 pm ET|
Former USC defensive Armond Armstead has signed a futures contract with the Patriots, according to multiple reports.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder, a USC product, was a three-year star for the Trojans in college. After a junior year spent at defensive end — where he had 43 tackles, six of which were for a loss (three sacks) — he was set to open his senior year at defensive tackle, but suffered a heart attack before his senior season and was never cleared to practice. As a result, he went undrafted last spring, and ended up with Toronto of the Canadian Football League, where he led the 44 tackles and six sacks to help the Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship. (Armstead was recently released by the Argonauts after informing them of his desire to play in the NFL.)
Armstead, who visited with the Patriots, Eagles and Colts (according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter), likely projects as a defensive end in a 3-4 alignment in the NFL.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
2013 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2013 NFL DRAFT
- Bill Belichick and The Greatest Coaches Ever
- New England Patriots Links 5/23/13 - Amendola, Jenkins Top Receivers at...
- Patriots Claim OT Kevin Haslam; Waive R.J. Mattes
- Patriots Spend League High $140K In Guaranteed Money For UDFAs
- New England Patriots Links 5/22/13 - Talib: OTAs About 'Getting Down the...
- The Potential Importance Of Jake Ballard
- Four Missing From Second Day Of Patriots OTAs